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                                                           Book of the Week

                



              

                                  Fish-Hair Woman by Merlinda Bobis

Finalist: 2013 Davitt Awards. Best crime and mystery books by Australian women
Winner: Most Underrated Book Award 2013
Winner: Juan C. Laya Prize for Best Novel in a Foreign Language 2014

Merlinda Bobis is a contemporary Philippine Australian writer and academic. Also a dancer and visual artist, Bobis currently teaches at Wollongong University.
Her latest ABC radio documentary Holding back the storm  asks 'how can we hold back the storm?' This is the biggest question of the Filipino people, particularly in the wake of supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), of 2013. Hit with twenty typhoons a year as well as earthquakes and volcanic erruptions, their islands are at the mercy of the weather. And climate change has rendered the Philippine archipelago particularly vulnerable to these tropical cyclones.

In Fish-Hair Woman, Bobis also concerns herself with her country of birth. She writes about the Philippine government and its total war against insurgency. The village of Iraya is militarised. The days are violent and the nights heavy with fireflies in the river where the dead are dumped. With her twelve-metre hair, Estrella, the Fish-Hair Woman, trawls corpses from the water that tastes of lemon grass. She falls in love with the Australian Tony McIntyre who disappears in the conflict. Ten years later, his son travels to Manila to find his father.

To read Fish-Hair Woman is to enter a kind of entrancement, at once strange, haunting, beautiful and terrifying. This is an extraordinary novel of compelling originality in which we learn that testimony is solidarity and that the loss and retrieval of any story of historical suffering implicates us all ...Gail Jones, author of Five Bells


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